Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Fried-Day

That's right. Happy Fried-Day. And why not?
I mean as long as there's Blue Monday, why shouldn't the first Friday immediately after be Happy Fried-Day?

I'm with this guy.

Here’s hoping Fried-Day marks the deepest emotional pothole of 2008, that the worst is in the rear-view mirror already. But frankly, the news is not helping to lift the mood. Everything seems like such tough slogging. The economy is in crisis. The environment is in crisis. The Middle East is in crisis. The health-care system is in crisis. When the bloody alarm goes off in the morning, it feels like a crisis.
Personally, I hope this is "the deepest emotional pothole of 2008", given that I'm sick and feel so god-awful today. Funny how sick as I am (and believe me, I am) I can still manage to blog though.

As predicted, the Manley report concerning Canada's future role in Afghanistan was released this week. The report itself seems fairly sensible, or is that middle of the road, concluding that Afghanistan has made economic and social progress in spite of its deteriorating security situation and that the mission is a worthy cause. After all, contributing to international security, improving the quality of life in one of the world’s most long-suffering countries and restoring Canada’s leadership role in global affairs all sound worthwhile, don't they?

Manley called on the combat mission to be extended beyond its current deadline of February 2009, on two conditions:

•The UN’s International Security Assistance Force sends 1,000 more soldiers to Kandahar province, enabling Canadian forces to accelerate training of the Afghan National Army.
•The government secures medium-lift helicopters and high-performance, unmanned aircraft to help soldiers avoid the deadly scourge of roadside bombs.

Manley suggested Ottawa take these two demands to NATO and draw a clear line in the sand, either 1,000 additional troops are provided by February, 2009 or we pull out. Perhaps most importantly, political parties were urged to wait to see what happens at a NATO summit in Romania in April before making any decisions in Parliament.

To keep the balance, the report also urged the Canadian government to play a more robust non-military role in the country. Apparently only 47 Canadian government civilians are working in Afghanistan — compared with 2,500 soldiers. Add that to the fact that Canadian diplomats appear to be muzzled and aid workers who volunteer to go to Kandahar are then prevented from leaving the base to work on reconstruction projects. As a good friend of mine is want to say, 'Things that make you go hmmm.'

Also as predicted, the politicians are having their usual fun in the park field day with it, with the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois leaders predictably reiterating their earlier 'preference' for a February 2009 overhaul of the mission. Despite not having actually read the report (why, oh why, would a person actually need to read something before criticizing it?) Stephan Dion, leader of the Liberal party, repeated (much like a stuck record) the party’s long-held position that Canada’s combat mission must end as scheduled in February 2009, although he conceded that Canada could continue to play a role in construction, training and humanitarian aid.

Apparently Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe believes that Canadian and Quebec troops have done their part. Time to move on. Not surprisingly (and depressingly for me), the NDP was most dismissive of the report and reiterated its call for a 2009 pullout.

"At a time when Canada should be drastically changing course to help the Afghan people build a lasting peace in the region, this report is recommending more of the same," said NDP Leader Jack Layton. "The combat role is the wrong role for Canada and it’s not making life more secure for Afghans."
Putting the politicians aside (in a locked room, if possible), other response to the report appears much more positive, at least in Nova Scotia. The families of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan praised Manley's report, with several parents and spouses saying that they were pleased with the exhaustive document. Now you don't suppose our politicians could learn something from that, do you? Especially considering that it's these very same families that the pols are oh-so-concerned about.

The real problem (besides the political posturing, made all the more difficult for the Liberals given the fact that Manley is one of their own) was pointed out by a relative of one of our injured soldiers - the report merely restates a message that has been relayed repeatedly to NATO officials without results — that Canada needs more help from its allies in the country’s restive southern region. That's something we have been calling for for months with little response. I wonder what the chances are of that non-response changing now? Come on, fellow NATO-allies, isn't it really, finally, time to put up?

And how can I tell that it really is Fried-Day, you ask?

As definitive proof, I offer you this. For no reason other than to add insult to injury, I suppose, while researching the links for this post, I came across this. Now there's something that could (and no doubt will) get me going. But not today. After all, it's Fried- Day. And I'm already sick.

"Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out."
Russian playwright Anton Chekhov

1 comment:

Balancing Act said...

Ohh - hope you are feeling better soon. Going through the flu/cold symptoms. I was completely fried at the end of this week. Monday will come soon enough.